01/23/2013 6:51PM

Woodbine reaches tentative agreement with the Ontario government

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Woodbine Entertainment Group announced Wednesday that it has reached an agreement in principle with the Ontario government that will ensure the continuation of live racing at Woodbine and Mohawk racetracks for the next two years.

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation announced last February that its racetrack slots programs, a partnership which saw 10 percent of net proceeds go to the racetracks and another 10 percent to the horsemen for purses, would be discontinued as of March 31, 2013.  Revenue generated by Woodbine’s casino, which has more than 2,500 slot machines, has been the driving force behind the dramatic growth in purses at the track over the past decade.

A subsequent report, commissioned by the government, recommended that horse racing in the province should get some transitional funding to help make the industry viable in the post-slots era.

A news conference that will provide details of the agreement is scheduled for Thursday at 10 a.m. Eastern in the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame at Woodbine.

“This long-awaited agreement offers stability while WEG and our partners in horse racing work with government towards a long-term sustainability solution,” said Jim Lawson, WEG’s chairmen of the board. “It’s clear to us that this is only a short-term fix, and sustainability can only be achieved by the integration of horse racing into the province’s gaming strategy. As the largest operator of horse racing in Canada, WEG is committed to working with the government to achieve this critical outcome.”